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Deliver Us from Evil: Warlords and Peacekeepers in a World of Endless Conflict Paperback – 5 Mar 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (5 Mar 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747553122
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747553120
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 949,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Shawcross became a writer after leaving University College, Oxford in 1968. He was in Czechoslovakia during the Soviet occupation; this inspired his first book, a biography of Alexander Dubček, the Czechoslovak leader, which was published in 1970. Since then he has written and travelled widely. In 1995 he wrote the BBC Television series Monarchy. In 2002 his BBC Television series and book, Queen and Country celebrated the Queen's Golden Jubilee and examined the changing face of Britain during her reign. Seven years in the writing, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother: the Official Biography was published in 2009. He lives in London.

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Amazon Review

War kills but so can peace. The notion of peace is as ancient as its martial adversary but behind its gentle façade can lurk a deceptively difficult sibling. Experienced foreign correspondent William Shawcross cut his teeth with Sideshow, a corrosive dismantling of the Nixon administration's policy in Cambodia. Deliver Us From Evil sees him travel to a clutch of ragged corners of the globe--Bosnia, Kosovo, Cambodia, Sierre Leone, Rwanda, Nigeria, Afghanistan--each with individual circumstances, but all with similarly devastating results. The world may be post-Cold War but it still combusts with ferocious ease and light arms account for far more lives than heavy artillery. At the book's fast-beating heart is a frustrating dichotomy: that humanitarian relief is a frequent and increasingly complicated response that can often hinder recovery, and too often equip the oppressors. An earnest desire for conflict resolution can ignore the fact that cessation of war is only the start; as General Romeo Ballaire puts it, "Peacekeeping cannot be an end in itself--it merely buys time". The most optimistic passages here are when Shawcross travels with Kofi Annan, secretary general of the United Nations, an exceptionally sanguine and wise man trying to hold together an organisation which is less than its constituent parts, and bankrupt to boot. In the labyrinthine world of international diplomacy, thousands of miles are covered to advance an inch and egos are massaged relentlessly by hands that would perhaps rather break bones. Shawcross, part of a growing breed of dedicated inquisitors that includes Michael Ignatieff, Tim Judah and Fergal Keane, is not afraid to ask complicated questions to which there are as yet no adequate formulated responses. His valuable and vivid survey of a decade of human brutality, and the peacekeepers that stand against it, shows that "the road to hell can be paved in good intentions" but it need not prove a cul-de-sac. --David Vincent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'Shawcross is quite simply one of the best reporters of his generation' DAILY MAIL 'Shawcross stands as the foremost journalist of his generation... this is an admirable book by an admirable man' IRISH TIMES 'Shawcross has written a firsthand and readable account of the dramas in which the UN has been involved recently' NEW STATESMAN

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First Sentence
ON a dark afternoon in January 1999, with the wind chill factor down to minus ten and snow rushing around outside the thirty-eight floor of the United Nations headquarters in New York, the secretary general, Kofi Annan, could be forgiven for feeling beleaguered. Read the first page
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 Jun 2000
Format: Hardcover
William Shawcross's book provides an excellent general overview of some near-forgotten world crises and disasters, easily accessible to those who, like me, have no more knowledge than that gleaned from a twenty minute skim through the daily paper. It does go somewhat deeper than that and is full of personal encounters and thus wholly new information. It is well written and Shawcross has some of Beevor's talent for making a cliffhanger out of history. However, this book is not in the class of Stalingrad; he fails to draw a thread through chapter by chapter - the book is more like a series of individual and entertaining essays on a mass of horrific subjects.
The book is disappointing in its failure to do more, in the end, than criticise and report. I know it is asking a lot of a journo to solve the world's problems but it would have been interesting had Shawcross given us his views on what might have been done to make a real difference, and extracted some conclusions about the errors that led to such terrible disasters. In a sense he does - he kind of concludes that if it was a disaster then it should have been done differently - but that is just 20/20 hindsight dressed up as analysis. William Shawcross is an intelligent and highly experienced man with unique access to the dramatis personae, and I expected more.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Jun 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book shows how little the average person knows about what is going on in conflicts around the world in OUR lifetime, both in front of the television cameras and behind the scences.
It also starts to show how split the international community is even when genocide is occuring.
Even though it covers some if not most of the conflicts in the post cold-war world briefly, it goes into just anough detail to make the reader want to know more.
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8 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 April 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Don't think for a moment this book will tell you about the UN. It doesn't. It tries to relate various recent conflicts in which the UN were involved, but it doesn't relate them chronologically. Instead Shawcross leaps back and forth through time with no apparent logic. He also jumps from country to country for no reason - when you are deeply involved in Sierra Leone he will suddenly lob you back into Bosnia, which is enormously frustrating. It's as if when the book had finished being written all the pages were dropped and the editor didn't bother putting them back in the right order before printing them. It's a real struggle to get through. My advice is don't bother trying.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 23 reviews
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
As it is.. as it shouldn't be 14 Jun 2000
By hugh riminton - Published on
Format: Hardcover
For most of the last decade, it seems to me, the world has been busy taking in the implications of the post Cold War environment. Out of this gestation there has recently arrived a flood of books. Geoffrey Robertson's "Crimes Against Humanity" details the development of the legal arguments for humanitarian intervention; Susan Moeller's "Compassion Fatigue" explains its political limits in terms of domestic apathy (blaming, rather too heavily I think, the media); Michael Ignatieff has written compellingly on humanitarian intervention from the perspective of a muscular-minded moral philosopher.. but Shawcross - more than anyone in my view - "tells it like it is."
Shawcross says his is a story of hope. It is hard to see how. With commendable clarity he charts the history of humanitarian-inspired interventions, focussing on the post Cold War world, when the end of superpower rivalries seemed briefly to make all things possible.
Encouraged by the apparent (though only partial) success of UNTAC in Cambodia, the "international community" (please God, let us find another phrase!) rushed naively and disastrously into Somalia (for more on this I recommend Scott Peterson's lively new memoir "Me Against My Brother"). The world powers then turned to water when confronted by the terrible challenge of Rwandan genocide. Shawcross writes powerfully of this, as Gourevitch among others have done. He also writes with chilling force of the events leading to the fall of Srebrenica, and the global pusillanimity that allowed Foday Sankoh his free and terrible reign in Sierra Leone.
As the century turns there are slim victories for those who believe the "good guys" of the outside world can bring peace to the blighted. The Australian-led INTERFET force in East Timor secured a shattered territory to give some hope of genuine transition to peaceful democracy. Mozambique, too, has been a quiet success story, making the recent devastating floods all the more tragic.
But the lessons of Shawcross's dispassionate analysis are those that the political powers least want to hear. If the US, France and other Western powers want to live up to the fine sound of their humanitarian rhetoric, they must stop playing their policies to their domestic audiences. If they want to approve impressive-sounding mandates, they must be willing to back them with men and material. They must be willing to risk the lives of their soldiers. They must look upon their cowardice in Srebrenica and Rwanda with shame (and I don't speak of the individual Dutch and Belgian soldiers who, respectively, were there). They must be more ready to see in Kofi Annan perhaps the last best hope the UN has.
If they are not willing to do those things, Shawcross makes clear, they might as well admit that humanitarian intervention is an emperor without clothes, and that the worst suffering in the world is irremediable.
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Fundamental Primer on Real-World Security Challenges 29 Aug 2000
By Robert David STEELE Vivas - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
EDIT of 23 Feb 08 to add links. This remains a priceless reference work.

This book is serious, scholarly yet down to earth, compassionate, insightful, terribly relevant and most useful to any citizen, overseas practitioner, or policymaker. By the books own rendering, "good will without strength can make things worse." Most compellingly, the author demonstrates both the nuances and the complexities of "peace operations", and the fact that they require at least as much forethought, commitment, and sustainment as combat operations. Food scarcity and dangerous public health are the root symptoms, not the core issues. The most dangerous element is not the competing sides, but the criminal gangs that emerge to "stoke the fires of nationalism and ethnicity in order to create an environment of fear and vulnerability" (and great profit). At the same time, humanitarianism has become a big part of the problem-we have not yet learned how to distinguish between those conflicts where intervention is warranted (e.g. massive genocide campaigns) and those where internal conflicts need to be settled internally. In feeding the competing parties, we are both prolonging the conflict, and giving rise to criminal organizations that learn to leverage both the on-going conflict and the incoming relief supplies. Perhaps more troubling, there appears to be a clear double-standard-whether deliberate or circumstantial-between attempts to bring order to the white western or Arab fringe countries and what appears to be callous indifference to black African and distant Asian turmoil that includes hundreds of thousands victim to genocide and tens of thousands victim to living amputation, mutilation, and rape. When all is said and done, and these are my conclusions from reading this excellent work, 1) there is no international intelligence system in place suitable to providing both the global coverage and public education needed to mobilize and sustain multi-national peacekeeping coalitions; 2) the United Nations is not structured, funded, nor capable of carrying out disciplined effective peacekeeping operations, and the contributing nations are unreliable in how and when they will provide incremental assistance; 3) we still have a long way to go in devising new concepts, doctrines, and technologies and programs for effectively integrating and applying preventive diplomacy, transformed defense, transnational law enforcement, and public services (water, food, health and education) in a manner that furthers regionally-based peace and prosperity instead of feeding the fires of local unrest.

See also:
The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It
The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Wharton School Publishing Paperbacks)
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution, and the Industrial System
Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, Third Edition
The Future of Life
The leadership of civilization building: Administrative and civilization theory, symbolic dialogue, and citizen skills for the 21st century
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Warlords and Peacekeepers in an Epic Battle 12 April 2000
By Prauge Traveler - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book more than adequately explores the utility of international intervention from the mid sixties to the near present. Shawcross makes a point of the difference between our desire to end ethnic war and starvation and our willingness to risk the lives of our own military. This dillema is at the heart of most peacekeeping missions. I was amazed to learn that the numbers of troops promised rarely ever show up on time- if ever! Equipment is also often lacking. The collective attention span of our society is also part of the problem. Simply taking a crisis and making it a 15 minute phenomenon to be quickly forgoten when the press gets old will not create a long term solution. More commitment on the behalf of our politicians, and ourselves will be required in the future.
Perhaps most frightening is a thesis that slowly emerges which would indicate that sometimes a happy ending is not possible, that evil will occasionaly triumph despite our best efforts and that in some situations our best efforts will only serve to prolong a conflict.
These and more are some of the issues that Shawcross covers by taking the reader to multiple real world situations that most of us have heard something (but not enough) about. The chapters on Africa's wars were very revealing of the extent that our views can be shaded by the light that the media casts on them. While I knew that there were and are conflicts there, I had no idea of their extent and ruthlessness; almost to an extreme that makes the Balkans seem mild.
One criticism of this book is that I have been able to keep a distance from the events that it describes. Some books have the ability to hit you in the stomach with meaning and this falls just short. However, when taken in combination with other recent books on modern history, Shawcross has made an invaluable contribution. "My War Gone By I Miss It So" is a book would make an excellent companion to this one, as would "Black Hawk Down" and "The Coming Anarchy".
After reading "Deliver us from Evil", my respect has been increased for those individuals in the UN who give their careers and lives up to a higher ideal of peace. Kofi Annan is now a name that means much more to me. He is a man who deserves all of our thanks.
The lesson that this book has to offer can be summed up by Edmund Burke, who is quoted at the beginning:
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Finally, the big picture 8 July 2001
By Random Joys - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I must begin with the disclaimer that I an not a reader of current-world-event reporting. For years, I have been frustrated by the snippets of informatioa that I get from the press: a mass grave here, a NATO strike there, a UN peace intervention somewhere else. Even if I chose to follow such events, I doubt that a coherent picture of world affairs would emerge.
I read Shawcross's DELIVER US FROM EVIL cover to cover. Finally, someone was presenting an overview of the tumultuous nineties. Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Iraq, Sierra Leone, Zair, East Timor, Kossovo--they are all covered in an informed, evenhanded way. The author largely leads us through the eyes of Koffi Annan, who becomes Secretary General of the UN halfway through the book. The author's obviously extraordinary access to Annan makes this vantage point vibrant, compelling, and renders coherence to apparently unrelated conflicts. World diplomacy is an exercise in frustration and this book does a great job of keeping the attention of the reader who gets this point from the beginning and who knows its ending.
Two are the principal drawbacks of this recounting of the nightmares of the nineties. Shawcross does not spend much time on international criminal justice nor on international finance. The collapse of East Asian financial systems which threatened a world-wide crisis cannot be irrelevant to all these humanitarian crises. Perhaps the relation is superficial--that insolvent goventnments cannot afford to maintain or impose peace--but it might be quite deeper, perhaps triggeming or motivating unrest in various ways.
The nineties, the book shows, were a crucial time for international criminal justice. Regional courts for war crimes were established to punish war criminals and deter atrocities. Eventually, a permanent international court for war crimes was established. Neither the function, nor the creation, nor the arguments surrounding the jurisdiction of these institutions are covered in sufficient depth. These are the drawbacks that shade an otherwise admirable account of an extraordinarily confusing decade.
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
A Close Examination of UN Peacekeeping Forces 5 Jun 2000
By David Isenberg - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A Close Examination of UN Peacekeeping Forces By David Isenberg Stars and Stripes Contributing Writer
Deliver Us From Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict, William Shawcross, Simon & Schuster, 413pp.
After reading this book nobody will ever again be able to contemplate a call to deploy United Nations peacekeepers without gagging. After I read it I was reminded of the saying that one is either part of the problem or part of the solution. For years people have assumed that when it came to peace and conflict issues in general and peacekeeping in specific that the United Nations was part of the solution. Perhaps it's time to change our minds. The Bible may say "Blessed are the peacemakers" but UN peacekeepers, unfortunately, are not.
In this book William Shawcross, longtime British journalist and veteran of many war zones, has written a dispassionate account of most of the major conflicts the UN has been involved in. The first part is a detailed, and at times dizzying history of UN involvement in the killing zones whose names we have seen so many times in the news: Cambodia, Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, East Timor, Chechnya, and Iraq. He analyzes, in great detail, the few, partial, tentative successes that UN Blue Helmets, such as UNTAC in Cambodia, and the far too many failures such as Rwanda, Somalia, and Sierra Leone.
The second part is a review, as seen by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan with whom Shawcross has obviously spent a great deal of time with, of the politics and diplomacy that occurred in the amorphous creature called the "international community," especially those nations that are members of the UN Security Council.
Sometimes it is hard to know which is worse; reading the accounts of the various atrocities perpetrated by the warlords and thugs posing as national leaders, i.e., Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevich, Foday Sankoh, Laurent Kabilah, or reading about the petty intrigues and bickering among the leaders of the Western governments and in the UN Secretariat.
Reading this book is like driving by a traffic accident; you are horrified by what you see but you can't keep from looking. The accounts of the enormous pressures encountered by Kofi Anan in trying to secure pledges of funds personnel, and approval for peacekeeping operations, and the obstacles encountered by UN peacekeepers from the forces who oppose their deployment, makes one appreciate that, unlike the Cold War era, there is no longer any peace to keep and precious little will to make peace.
At a time when UN forces are being captured by the hundreds by rebels in a heart of darkness like Sierra Leone one realizes that if UN peacekeeping operations could be symbolized by a car it would be the Edsel.
Though Shawcross is obviously sympathetic to the idea of UN peacekeeping he is too much the dispassionate observer to believe that current "humanitarian" interventions are a model to follow in the future. His last words are "In a more religious time it was only God whom we asked to deliver us from evil. Now we call upon our own man-made institutions for such deliverance. That is sometimes to ask for miracles."
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